Although both teams had a few shots at goal in the first half, Argentina had more chances to score.
They played calmly, passed the ball around and made a few attempts at goal. The best opportunity came from a Lionel Messi free kick from just outside the Dutch box, which was fired at goal but saved by Jasper Cillessen in the 24th minute.
Another opportunity arose for the Argentines when Ezequiel Garay headed the ball over the crossbar from an Ezequiel Lavezzi corner. The Dutch had fewer opportunities with their best arising when Wesley Sneijder dangerously crossed the ball into the Argentine box twice, but both balls were punched away by Sergio Romero.
At half time the score was deadlocked at 0-0 with both sides still in a good position to win the game.
At the start of the second half the Dutch defence was resolute and were quick to deny the Argentine efforts. In the 75th minute, Argentina had a chance but Gonzalo Higuaín put the ball into the side netting. In the 84th minute a strike by Marcos Rojo tested Cillessen. In the 90th minute, Arjen Robben almost scored after breaking through the Argentine defence, but a brilliant tackle by Javier Mascherano blocked the shot.
With the score at 0-0 at full time, the game went to extra time. The match continued in a similar fashion to normal time with both sides playing cautious football while trying to create chances. In the eighth minute of extra time, Robben took a testing shot which was saved by Romero.
In the 25th minute, Rodrigo Palacio almost scored for Argentina but his header was too soft to go over the Dutch keeper. In the 27th minute, Messi broke away from the Dutch defence and crossed the ball into the box. The ball fell for Maxi Rodríguez but he did not connect with the ball properly and his volley went comfortably into the hands of Cillessen. In the 30th minute of extra time, Dirk Kuyt took a shot at goal but the ball was deflected and the game ended 0-0.
This is the first time that a World Cup semi-final has gone to penalties since 1998, when Netherland lost to Brazil in France. The Dutch were the first to take a penalty and their first shot by Vlaar was saved by Romero, who also saved the third Dutch penalty by Sneijder. Argentina scored all four of their penalties to win the shootout 4-2.
Argentina will face Germany in the 2014 World Cup Final on Sunday 13 July. This will be the third time the two countries meet in a World Cup final, with Argentina beating Germany 3-2 in the 1986 final in Mexico. Four years later, Germany beat Argentina 1-0 in the final in Italy.